CITY HALL – With hospitalizations trending down in the area, the St. Louis area is forging ahead with plans to allow businesses to reopen on Monday, May 18.
Mayor Lydra Krewson said in her Facebook press conference on Monday that the final guidelines had been set after intensive work to coordinate regulations over all the industries. The city and its health department worked with St. Louis County and with representatives of the various types of businesses, Krewson said.
The final rules are in the Health Commissioner’s Order #8, posted on the city’s website, stlouis-mo.gov. The order will take effect at 12:01 a.m. on May 18.
Each type of business has rules tailored for its industry. For example, Krewson said, offices should allow only 2-3 people in an elevator. Employees who can work from home may be better to continue doing so for a while yet. Face masks are important for everyone, with gloves for some businesses. Other changes may involve rearranging work stations and waiting rooms, and discouraging use of cash.
City Hall may reopen to the public in early June, the mayor said.
Krewson said of the guidelines, “This is to crack the door open a little bit, not to swing the door open.”
A listener brought up the idea of closing some streets to drivers so businesses and their customers could have more space. Restaurants, for instance, could set up tables outside.
“I think it’s a great idea,” Krewson responded. She cautioned that closed streets could cause problems with nearby streets’ traffic and parking.
She invited people to suggest specific streets and blocks for potential closure. But business owners and neighbors, not government officials, are the ones who should get together and act on such a plan, Krewson asserted.
She warned that activities on a closed street “can’t turn into a big street party.”
Krewson reminded listeners that businesses don’t have to open on Monday; owners should make their own decisions, and if they’re uneasy, they should wait.
“Just because you can open doesn’t mean that you should, and certainly doesn’t mean that you must,” Krewson said.
Can we greet people on Monday with a hug?
“You’re going to have to use some common sense about that,” Kewson counseled, citing potential risk factors such as age, health conditions and so on. “You’ve got to limit exposure. I’m going to leave that up to you – with a very cautionary look!”
As for cultural institutions such as the Zoo and the Muny, the city has asked each one to submit a plan to the health department. Each venue will have a different plan, she noted, and most don’t want to open too quickly. The city will go over each plan with the organization, she said.
“Somehow we all have to learn how to live with this virus, and so we’ve got to take it a step at a time.”